The walls and ruins along the Southern Upland Way at Culreoch are all that remains of World War II air defence gun emplacements. Originally this was a fairly large defensive site with 10 Nissan Huts and 16 other buildings. They were here to defend Loch Ryan and the essential military ports there.
During the second World War there was considerable concern about the impact that German bombing could have on the major ports of Glasgow, Greenock, Liverpool and Manchester. Between them these ports handled over 55% of UK trade including most of the vital supplies coming in from America.
As a replacement if they were destroyed Military Port No 2 was built at Cairnryan. Three piers were constructed along with one and a half miles of quay and miles of railway connecting it to the mainline. Luckily the bombing of the major ports never prevented them from being used so it was known was never needed at it’s full capacity.
On the other side of Loch Ryan there was another military base at Wig Bay. This was for Flying Boats. German U boats were causing devastation to this vital supply line taking out convoys of ships supplying Britain. One way of combating the U boats was to use aircraft to cover large distances searching for them and Flying Boats were often used for this. Wig Bay had up to 170 of these giant flying machines stationed here during the war, mostly Short Sunderlands and Consolidated Catalinas.
These aircraft would patrol the skies above the North Atlantic day and night using radar to search for the U boats when they surfaced to recharge their batteries. When they found one they would drop depth charges. These bombs would sink to about 10m before detonating and the shock wave they sent through the water could sink or disable the submarines. In this way the flying boats sunk dozens of U boats. The submarines were however also armed with anti aircraft guns so each encounter would have been a terrifying encounter with lethal consequences for whoever was on the losing side.